Suffering Is God's Plan?

Pope John Paul IIIt is horrible to die in severe pain. We can all agree on that. That’s why, when we see an animal suffering close to death, the compassionate thing is to kill it quickly with minimal pain.

Pope John Paul II had a different perspective, though:

Suffering, especially during the last moments of life, has a special place in God’s saving plan; it is in fact a sharing in Christ’s passion and a union with the redeeming sacrifice which he offered in obedience to the Father’s will. (Declaration on Euthanasia, 1980)

Behold the twisted thinking of this theist. Because an old book said Jesus suffered a excruciatingly horrible death, it is a honor and duty for us to suffer like that, too.

Because that man believed in the myths of Jesus, his common sense was overridden. Common sense tells you suffering is bad and should be avoided when possible. Common sense tells you when your dog is teetering on the edge of death, in severe pain, you do what you can to end it.

Religious sense tells you that suffering is a virtue, that it’s good because it happened to Jesus.

It’s not a very far step of logic to go from thinking that suffering is good, to inflicting suffering is good, is it? After all, that’s what the ascetic monks are famous for. They would whip themselves and do whatever they could to cause suffering to themselves, because they were sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. And it wasn’t a very far step for men of the cloth to torture people during the Inquisition, inflicting suffering on “bad people” would make them better and perhaps save their souls.

That’s all bunk. Suffering only exists because we feel pain. Small amounts of pain are natural, because it is a way the body communicates with us. But when pain turns into severe pain, we should minimize so we can be happy. To me, it’s as simple as that.

I don’t have a problem if people want to suffer. They are free to do so. Have at it. Enjoy.

But don’t take away other people’s right to die with dignity.

  • Ty

    Unfortunately, these attitudes affected our medical systems views of pain management for decades.

    My favorite was when terminally ill patients were refused powerful painkillers for fear they ‘would become addicted’.

  • Zotz

    And the so-called “saintly” Mother Teresa. I rarely agree with Hitchens (except for his atheism), but his takedown of her was in the same vein — she got off on the “nobility” of the abject poverty of the orphans of Calcutta. Just really, really SICK AND TWISTED.

    • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

      The woman dedicated her life to alleviating suffering, not “getting off” on it. You want to argue about her beliefs, fine. But show a little respect for someone who tried to make things better in the world–it beats mean-spirited criticism.

      • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

        She could have alleviated more suffering with the money she raised on their behalf if more of that money had actually gone to the poor instead of to the Church.

        • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

          That’s an assertion that would require a few statistics before it could be accepted.

          • Aor
            • Aor

              In case you won’t click those links, here is a quote from the economicexpert.com link.

              The Missionaries of Charity do not disclose either the sources of their funds or details of how they are spent. A 1998 article in the popular German Stern weekly quoted a witness account according to which the order received about US$50 million a year in donations on its New York account alone. Other journalists have given estimates of US$100 million a year for its global operations. Critics have argued that these sums far exceed the modest needs of the order, which offers little medical help and is staffed by nuns and volunteers. Furthermore, volunteers have stated that they were specifically instructed not to use the money to purchase medical equipment.

              Critics have maintained that the majority of the money donated to the order is transferred to the Istituto per Opere Religiosi (colloquially known as the Vatican Bank) in Rome, where it is used by the Catholic Church for its general purposes, or is transferred to non-Christian countries for missionary work. Susan Shields, a former employee of the Missionaries of Charity in the United States, alleged that even when donors explicitly marked money as, for example, “for the hungry in Ethiopia”, she was instructed not to send the money to Africa, while still writing receipts with the text “For Ethiopia”.

              In the United Kingdom, where the law requires charitable organisations to disclose their expenditures, an audit in 1991 concluded that only 7% of the total income of about US$2.6 million went into charitable spending, with the rest being remitted to the Vatican Bank.

              7% going to charity, 93% going straight to the Vatican Bank. So yes indeed, she could have alleviated more suffering with that money if she had actually used it to.. well, alleviate suffering.

              So, Clergy Guy.. do you accept those statistics?

            • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

              Okay, I’ll accept them for now. That’s pretty consistent with my experience with Protestant churches, too– and it’s shameful.

              However, I’m not sure it’s Mother Teresa’s fault. She didn’t run the church. She spent her time working to feed hungry people. She lived poor, too, btw.

              One of hte points of this article focuses on the validity of finding dignity in suffering. It’s not fair to dis her because she saw attributed dignity to the people she was helping

              As a poor woman, could she have raised any money at all outside the RC Church? That’s more a question than a point.

              Could she have done better? Tell you what. Why don’t you and I try to do it better.

            • Aor

              Could she have done better? Damn right. Charities all over the world do better on a regular basis. Your local soup kitchen probably does much better.. or you should hope it does. She cannot be excused for the suffering she caused because her crazy religious beliefs valued suffering.

              From one of the links above,

              “Three of Mother Teresa’s teachings that are fundamental to her religious congregation are all the more dangerous because they are believed so sincerely by her sisters. Most basic is the belief that as long as a sister obeys she is doing God’s will. Another is the belief that the sisters have leverage over God by choosing to suffer. Their suffering makes God very happy. He then dispenses more graces to humanity. The third is the belief that any attachment to human beings, even the poor being served, supposedly interferes with love of God and must be vigilantly avoided or immediately uprooted. The efforts to prevent any attachments cause continual chaos and confusion, movement and change in the congregation. Mother Teresa did not invent these beliefs – they were prevalent in religious congregations before Vatican II – but she did everything in her power (which was great) to enforce them.”

              She raised money for a purpose, helping the poor and sick, and then GAVE most of it to the church instead. Even her ‘help’ to the sick was to let them die in hot and dirty rooms, tended by people who were taught to not have any emotional connection to those who were suffering under their care. Rather than spend money on proper medical treatment, that money was given to the church and those sick people were allowed to suffer and die needlessly. Needles were re-used so many times that they became blunt and using those needles became very painful. Volunteers offered new needles, and the sisters turned them down. Donations aimed at the famine in Ethiopia were just put in a bank rather than spent the way the donors wished.

              She may not have been the person in charge of day to day operations, but there is no question that she could have put the money to a much better use, that she had the power to make that money go where it was supposed to.. and she chose not to. She made thousands or hundreds of thousands of people suffer because of her deluded belief that suffering please a god.

              Those things are her fault. She had the power to stop them, and her deluded belief that suffering was holy caused many many other human beings to suffer and often die.

              I think if either you or I could not do better, we would be horrible people.

            • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

              Okay, I give. You’ve done more homework than I have, and I appreciate your efforts.

          • Len

            Maybe if the church had backed her, they could have sent more people, more money, to help the orphans. While some people have nothing, no church should have anything.

            • Kan82

              She also opposed birth control, as Church dogma dictates, so consequently she had a continuing multiplication of suffering souls to “aid”

            • Len

              Captive market.

          • rodneyAnonymous

            Mother Theresa was not a friend of the poor, she was a friend of poverty.

      • Travis
        • Zotz

          That was my point, exactly. You said it much better / more succinctly. A sick, demented religious mindset that celebrates suffering for jesus — bordering on S&M.

    • DanielV

      Funny, as I was reading this, I immediately thought of Mother Teresa, who pissed away ridiculous amounts of money (that could have gone to alleviating a LOT of suffering) building nunneries and convents. I have the same love-hate relationship with Hitchens, but I sum it up as: “wrong about Iraq, right about everything else. I’m glad he wrote that book and exposed this fraud, a woman with power to heal millions, but who chose to heal really almost none, all in the name of a made-up deity whose existence she herself doubted.

  • Woodwose

    Ty
    I’ll see your “Fear of addition” and trump it with my favorite – letting patients starve to death (passive euthanasia) rather than upping the painkiller levels to lethal levels. This gives you the original pain, more pain and a chance to enjoy it for an extended period of time while suffering the mental anguish of knowing it’s being done on purpose for no good reason.

  • trj

    Is there any kind of human misery that isn’t glorified by the RC Church? It preaches adherence to dogma above anything, human considerations always come second.

    No, wait. Human considerations come third. Considerations for the RC Church come second.

  • Siberia

    As someone who has chronic pain, and has had it from the time she was eight months old, I say fuck-you-very-much, Mr. Pope.

    • Sunny Day

      I wonder if the Pope takes aspirin, or any pain reliever for that slip and fall he had a few days ago.

      • Travis

        Of course he does. Remeber its not hipocrisy when the Pope does it. I guess thats the advantage of being chosen directly by God to lead the church via a democratic process by members of the church.

        Do the people who vote for the wrong pope have to undergo exorcisms? I mean if they voted wrong then its a sign they aren’t following instructions from God because God would want everyone to vote for the same person, right?. Or is it a case of God telling people to vote differently as a trick to unbelivers. That way people will see the difference in voting and say well clearly God’s not in charge, and then they’ll spend a lifetime sinning. Then when they die God will burn them in hell forever. What a hilarious practical joke, He’s punking us all. Alright God, I’m on to you, where’s the hidden cameras?

        Its so weird that the way God expresses his divine will is influenced by the customs of society. Its almost like he’s not real, and was made up by society for some mysterious reasons. But thats crazy.

    • LRA

      Siberia, I love your sass!!! :)

      • Siberia

        Thanks <3

    • Kan82

      I am absolutely with you, Siberia; me, my mother, my grandmother – autoimmune hell, and how fucking sick do you get reading about how pain has “made someone a better person”?. “Oh there was a reason for this illness, and I’m actually grateful” – screw that shit. Pain is pain, you live in pain and die or you cope with pain and live and then die – you don’t get an award. Tough it out, but without a martyr complex, you know?

  • http://www.sourapplesblog.com Elliott

    Common sense tells you when your dog is teetering on the edge of death, in severe pain, you do what you can to end it. Religious sense tells you that suffering is a virtue, that it’s good because it happened to Jesus.

    This is only true for humans. Dog Jesus was hit by a car, and died instantly. Therefore, he felt no pain, and neither should his Dogsciples.

    • Travis

      I believe dog jesus was a very good pet, who loved his masters very much, but I don’t belive he was the dog messiah.

  • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

    I think your point about the ascetic monks looking to inflict pain on themselves is valid.

    While I’m not looking to defend the Pope, I did want to weigh in on a complicated discussion. While no one should go looking for suffering or worse, inflict suffering for the sake of spiritual enrichment, is there anything wrong with finding meaning in pain? Lots of people state that they are better human beings because of their trials. Should we deny the validity of their claims?

    On the one hand, I think it’s senseless to prolong the suffering of the terminally ill with treatments that have dreadful side effects and drain the financial resources. On the other hand, the question of the right die is sticky. Isn’t it a generally a good thing to intervene if someone wants to harm himself/herself? I’ve counseled too many people who had to literally clean the mess of their parent’s suicide, and subsequently cope with their own complicated grief.

    Mindless reaction to extreme religious views couldn’t be a good thing either.

    • Ty

      You think it will make you a better person to die slowly and in horrific pain? As someone who has watched two different people die slowly of cancer, I think that’s an insane position to take. They are dying. Literally the ONLY thing left for us to do for them is make their last few days or hours as comfortable as possible.

      Comparing that to suicide is offensive and stupid.

      “Mindless reaction to extreme religious views couldn’t be a good thing either.”

      If you think that rejection of dogma that claims dying in pain is a positive thing is a ‘mindless reaction’, then that’s even more offensive and stupid.

      • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

        Go back and read what I said, and you’ll see that I did not take that position.

        • Ty

          I have gone back and reread, and you do in fact compare end of life decisions to suicide, and your ‘mindless reaction’ comment doesn’t have any other qualifiers, so it is natural to assume it was speaking about a rejection of the Pope’s suffering comments.

    • Lisa S

      “I’ve counseled too many people who had to literally clean the mess of their parent’s suicide, and subsequently cope with their own complicated grief. ”

      Perhaps if the parents had been allowed the dignity of dying as they wish, they would have been able to say proper goodbyes instead of just leaving behind confused people.

      I know…there are so many variables. The severly mentally ill do need to be protected. However in the case of the terminally ill, the point is valid. We should let them have that choice of how they wish to die.

      And BTW the Catholic Church isn’t considered to be extreme. It’s considered mainline. And millions of people all over the world accept what the Pope says as the word of God. So to me, it’s a bit scary.

      • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

        I see your point about the RC church being mainline and not extreme. And I can see where you’re coming from about people being able to say their goodbyes in a dignified way. It’s just I’ve known too many people who killed themselves over things that could have been solved if they had just given it a little more time. Their suffering seemed endless, but in fact, often it is not.

        I think we agree there is no clearcut easy answer here. It’s a question with a lot of considerations to take into account.

        • Lisa S

          Yes, that’s what I mean by the mentally ill. Many times the person the committs suicide could used some meds to balance the chemicals in their body. I think I would have to reserve judgement as to what would be best for them.

          I suppose it would be difficult for a physician to be able to help someone die when it’s their instinct to save all.

          As with any hot topic, there is always variables. When I was a Christian, all I could see was the black and white. Now I see more greys and even some colors….and that’s before I start drinking!!

          • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

            LOL!

            I’ve stayed a Christian even though I’ve had my own difficulties to work through, but you make a good point about our trying to make everything black and white. I often make the point to my people that it’s really very hard to be black and white about subjective things like faith and spirituality.

            • Lisa S

              The b/w was the hardest for me. I used to have youngs adults/teens for bible study and they had the hardest questions. Questions I couldn’t answer and the pastor would make up answers….
              …I think that started me on my path toward skepticism.

            • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

              I don’t want to get all “Sunday Schoolish” on you, but there’s enough in the gospel accounts to consider that Jesus really liked the skeptics. For that matter, I do too.

            • Daniel Florien

              At least how he is portrayed, he sure didn’t like religious folk!

            • Travis

              @daniell I’ve always thought that if Jesus were to come back today, Christians would not like him. He would be to them a symbol of everything thats wrong with the world. I can hear the gossip now.

              “did you see that ‘Jesus’ he seems like a nice christian fellow, but he spends an aweful lot of time with that Mary lady. I hear she’s a prostitute, and I saw him just the other day I saw him coming out of a bar! DISGRACEFUL! we should all pray that Jesus will save that man’s soul.”

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              At least how he is portrayed, he sure didn’t like religious folk!

              So is the real question, WWDD?

              ;)

              @daniell I’ve always thought that if Jesus were to come back today, Christians would not like him.

              Probably a lot of truth in that statement.

        • Len

          @Clergy Guy: There’s a big difference between people who are terminally ill and those who are deeply distressed, depressed, or in despair. People in the first category should be enabled to choose when they go, in dignity. People in the second category should receive counselling and support.

          • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

            If you’re saying we shouldn’t lump all those people together, I agree.

            • Len

              Your comment earlier looked like you were: “And I can see where you’re coming from about people being able to say their goodbyes in a dignified way. It’s just I’ve known too many people who killed themselves over things that could have been solved if they had just given it a little more time. Their suffering seemed endless, but in fact, often it is not.” Firstly you talk about dignified goodbyes (which I assume to be about terminally ill people stepping out), then about suicides.

            • Ty

              Which was my problem with his comment, but he seems to not want to clarify.

    • Olaf

      “Lots of people state that they are better human beings because of their trials. Should we deny the validity of their claims? ”

      Clergy Guy, are you up for an experiment?
      We will make you feel tons of pain, to see if you actually become a better human.
      And since you experience the same fate as jezus, you might feel closer to heaven too.
      Sounds a lot of fun, doesnt it?

      • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

        Your challenge does not reply to my statement you quoted. The point I’m making is that some people credit their own suffering for making them better people. This is not necessarily a religious or spiritual point of view, although that perspective is is often included.

        I did not and do not say that all suffering is good for all people. But the possibility exists that pain can make someone a better person.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        If ESPN is a valid source, and I think they would be about this anyway, they quoted Lance Armstrong’s book in which he claims cancer is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. Lance is a pretty outspoken atheist.

        • Siberia

          Frankly, if cancer is the best thing that happened to him, then he’s got a pretty shitty life, religion or lack thereof notwithstanding. I’m glad he managed to cope with it, maybe even derive some wisdom or good from a bad thing, but it’s still a bad thing.

    • Siberia

      While no one should go looking for suffering or worse, inflict suffering for the sake of spiritual enrichment, is there anything wrong with finding meaning in pain? Lots of people state that they are better human beings because of their trials. Should we deny the validity of their claims?

      No. Then again, people find meaning in anything they want. It’s a way to cope, methinks. It’s easier to assume something has a meaning and has happened for a reason than to entertain the notion your suffering is entirely meaningless.
      Glorifying pain, however…

      • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

        Well, they do use an instrument of torture as the symbol of their faith. At least there is truth in advertising.

      • Melissa

        I was thinking the same. When someone goes through a really difficult time and finally come through it, saying they are better for it is just that: a way of coping with the pain they endured.
        If they took the position that they were worse off after, that very thinking would likely affect the rest of their life.
        Attributing growth from pain is really the only/best way to grow and move past the negative. It is hardly a way to substantiate that end of life suffering is a good thing!

  • http://thebeattitude.com theBEattitude

    No matter what happens to a Christian, they wear it like a badge of honor. I’m rich because Jesus wants me to be, I’m talented because Jesus blessed me at birth, I’m healthy because Jesus wants me to do more before I die, or I’m suffering because it’s part of God’s plan for my life.

    Bull. Take some credit and responsibility for your success and failure. God didn’t do it and the devil didn’t do it. And sometimes, shit happens regardless of what we do. It is not part of some sadistic “saving plan”. It’s just part of being an living creature on the big rock we call earth. A mixture of good and bad genetics, good and bad choices and random good or bad circumstances.

    • Travis

      you are only saying that because the Devil made you.

      But its ok, because God loves you. You know he does because he always promises that someday he is going to buy you all kinds of really nice things. Sure sometimes he does things like make you burn in hell forever, but thats not because he wants to. Its just because your too stupid to understand his plan for the universe, and you keep messing it all up on him. If you just believe in him then he wouldn’t have to do it.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    If a person believes that suffering in the end of the life is desirable, does it make one a “monster” to sit and watch as that person suffers?

    Ultimately, I think it’s wrong to dictate to another person what they should or should not do when it comes to the end of their life as described above. If someone is terminally ill and/or enduring suffering that does not seem to have an ending, it should be their decision and their decision alone (or obviously the person appointed to make that decision by the person who is ill/suffering).

    For example, there was a point in my grandfather’s life when the pain of living was so severe that he wished to die; yet, he had a personal conviction that he would never end his own life. He wanted to die naturally.

    The “monstrous” thing to do is to violate the wishes of the person who is dying/suffering. It caused us a great deal of pain to watch my grandfather suffer, but it would have caused even more had we violated his wishes. There wasn’t any twisted idea that he was somehow honoring God or participating in Jesus’ own suffering; he simply wanted the last breath he took to be the natural course of things.

    It’s frustrating to see the church collectively fail to grasp the difference between a mentally ill person who is depressed and wants to commit suicide as a result (intervention would be desirable here, I think) and the person who is suffering as the result of terminal illness. They are vastly different circumstances and require differentiation in our thinking.

    • http://clergyguy.blogspot.com Clergy Guy

      I appreciate the thoughtful views as well as your sharing your grandfather’s story. I agree that the church ought to have a more nuanced stand on this issue–something that takes into account the widely varying situations.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        You bet. Certainly didn’t intend it to be a jab at you … didn’t see your above comments ’til just now.

      • Len

        I wrote my comment above before reading this.

    • Daniel Florien

      If the person would rather suffer than be helped, then you aren’t a “monster” for watching — I’m talking about situations where the person wants help, and you can help, but you refuse.

      I took that line out, though, because I think it confuses more than it helps.

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        Well, I can only partly agree here, Daniel.

        For example, if my wife were suffering greatly due to terminal illness, and she asked me to pull the plug, as it were, I would struggle mightily to actually do it. I think ultimately, I would, if there were no hope of her recovery … but I would hesitate for quite a while, I think, and watch her suffer for a while through that process.

        I don’t think that makes me or anyone in that situation a monster; it just makes us human.

        Although that’s a far cry from what the Pope is saying and a bit of a tangent from your original point in the post, I realize.

    • ThisGodlessEndeavor

      I’m not that concerned with how the church views assisted suicide or terminally ill patients. I mean, in my basic understanding it falls within reason that suffering is a “good” thing or can be a positive, faith-reaffirming experience to people looking to live a Christ-like life. I personally think it silly, but its no sillier than anything else they believe

      I’m more concerned with our state and federal government who seem influenced by this opinion when it comes to assisted suicide laws. But of the two avenues for change in this equation (changing the chruch’s stance vs changing the gov’s stance) I’m not going to concern myself with what church believes because its not going to change (much).

  • Michael

    Ah yes…. the sado-masochist, creamy center of the ugly little nugget that is monotheism.

  • Timothy M. Malnar

    I seem to remember something about Jesus’ supposed suffering and dying FOR our sins, not so we can celebrate in the union of suffering. The legend goes on to proclaim that he OVERCAME death and suffering on our behalf upon his ‘resurrection’ from the grave. Ideas like this had me under the trance of that zombie myth leader for years until I continued to come across this sort of tripe in my readings of theological interpretation. The pope and those of his ilk are social terrorists and should seek intensive individual and group therapy immediately.

  • Baconsbud

    I might have missed it but I haven’t seen anyone bring up how the christian god is all merciful. I don’t know but to me mercy is relieving the suffering not wanting it. Of course he is all just also and I guess making someone suffer the last few years of their life for doing mostly good is possible.

  • http://volunteer08.blogspot.com/ Volly

    Two comments.

    First, you’ve been Dugg.

    Second, the only “useful purpose” I see in experiencing pain is the ability to increase one’s empathy. I was in relatively excellent health throughout the first four decades of my life, mainly because my parents sacrificed a lot financially to make sure I always had the best medical and dental care. They, however, had problems with their bones and their teeth, and I couldn’t relate. I couldn’t understand why they rejected certain types of food because it hurt to eat.

    While I’m still in relatively good health, I’ve more recently experienced some of my parents’ problems first-hand, and it was like a lightbulb coming on. From there it became much easier to accept other people’s complaints about their health, without judging them as pity-partiers or whiners. Experience is non-transferable. Some people are fortunate to be born with an inner sense of compassion, and I readily confess to having been extremely deficient in this area for a long time. It’s getting better with age (LOL).

    But I’ve also seen individuals with chronic health problems who (understandably) sink into a morass of self-absorption, convinced that they are the only people who have ever suffered this way. Their pain and discomfort become their entire universe, rendering them incapable of acting on anyone’s behalf, including their own. They assume a spiral of helplessness and hopelessness, and that is the mindset that the medical profession needs to work on alleviating.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    great post. as i posted before my girlfriend’s grandpa was terminally ill with Alzheimer’s and due to poor circulation they needed to amputate both his legs and possibly both his arms as well. His family opted to let him die over the course of several days with steadily increasing does of morphine, rather than let him wake up a circus freak with no arms or legs. I see nothing wrong in their decision. I wonder if this was going to happen to the pope – would he relish and enjoy the suffering?

    • Sunny Day

      It would make the Pope a Martyr, they get off on that.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Is there any ultimate purpose in suffering if there is no god?

    Had you rater suffer when there is no reason for it?

    • Sunny Day

      I’m glad you agree. There’s no reason for suffering.

      • Siberia

        Y’know, I’d rather not suffer at all. Crazy, uh?

        • Sunny Day

          I think he might? have been trying to justify suffering because there is supposedly a reward for it. But it looks like he ran out of words and just threw a salad together.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Suffering is unavoidable. Some suffer worse than others, but al of us seem to get our share.

    If I suffer because God wills it and will use it to a greater purpose, my suffering is meaningfull.

    If I suffer without purpose, as in a world without God, that suffering is no “good;” it is not meaningfull.

    Suffering meaninglessly, uselessly, is the worst possible fate.

    • Siberia

      Why God would will its creations to suffer for any purpose at all, if not out of sheer sadism? I mean, the dude made up the freakin’ universe. Why would he need our suffering for some “greater purpose”? Are we mere pawns in his divine hands?

      Suffering is never good. Never. Not because the Divine Pie in the Sky wants it, not because it has “meaning”, it isn’t good and it’ll never be good. It exists. That’s undeniable. We cope with it, we brace it, we shuffle along, we grit our teeth and move on because we have to – but that doesn’t make it good. That doesn’t make it right.

      To say suffering is good and meaningful is to excuse unspeakable acts – like the little kid dying of diabetes because her parents wouldn’t take her to a doctor, or the people left to die because it’s God’s will that they die. It’s to gloss over the torture of people who die as martyrs and justify people who drive airplanes at buildings. It’s to excuse wars (for the “greater good”), it’s to ignore that people all around the world are suffering and that that is a bad thing.

      That, my friend, is the worst possible fate. A world where suffering is glorified, sugarcoated, lackadaisically ignored because it’s “meaningful”. Because it’s God’s will.

      • Anonomouse

        Saving Jones some time. From his site: It seems god is both all powerful and pitiable. A mindless creature trapped by the perfection of itself.

        “You assume that the law of God is arbitrary, that God could choose to make the law be whatever He wanted it to be. God could no more make the moral law in a different way than he could make the laws of mathematics a different way. All of these abstract laws are an expression of His nature and character. God’s character is the basis for good attitudes. God’s actions are the basis for good behavior. God’s character and morality cannot change because His being cannot change. God’s knowledge is the basis for the laws of logic, and by consequence the laws of mathematics. He cannot learn or forget. His knowledge is unchanging, and everything He knows must fit together into a coherent account. Logic helps us spot inconsistencies in our own views, the places where our knowledge does not fit together coherently. God could not make the laws of morality or the laws of logic differently than what they are. God, being who He is, must create as an expression of Himself. Things being what they are, the laws of morality cannot be any different. We know this intuitively whether we admit it or not. We know some things are right and some things are wrong. That is the way the universe works. We know it full well.”

    • Sunny Day

      “Suffering meaninglessly, uselessly, is the worst possible fate.”

      This sounds like the first arc of circular logic. Go ahead and elaborate on it.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Suffering is not part of God’s perfect will. In that senseit is evil. God can work in situations where suffering exists to bring about things that are good. That gives purpose.

    Don’t get the idea that Christians throughout history have been accepting of suffering and have done nothing to aleviate it. That’s from an A. Camus novel, “The Plague,” not from the general flow of church history.

    • Daniel Florien

      You can’t have pain without suffering. God surely would have known that.

      And before you say there was no pain before the fall, that must be untrue. Pain is natural and built into our bodies. It tells us what we can and cannot do. Life would not still be alive if it were not for pain.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    J.K. Jones “Suffering is not part of God’s perfect will.” …. “God can work in situations where suffering exists to bring about things that are good.”

    How do you know this? Your site reminds me a of a monk sitting around all day practicing mental masturbation – busily trying to answer the un-answerable. You cannot know the mind or nature of God anymore than I can or any other human being that’s ever existed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing you – a lowly human being, can say about the nature of God. To do so is arrogance, sheer disdainful arrogance and only betrays your own naivety.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to us in the Old andNew Testamnts of the Bible. It is not arogance to be humble enough to accept what God has plainly said about Himself.

    Besides, your absolute skepticism is self defeating. Ed csnnont know anything about God accept that we cannot know anything about God, which is something about God.

    • Sunny Day

      Weee! I’m spinning.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Daniel, it sounds like you and I agree that pain is often good. It tells us when we have done something harmfull to us.

    Pain can also be an indication that we have done something wrong toward God. It often is.

    It is also an indication that we have done something wrong to His world. It tells us all to repent and turn to God.

    And you are right, we cannot have pain without suffering.

  • colleen r

    Theres only one problem with the belief that god gave us free will and thats why there is suffering. So how do you answer why animals suffer? god didn’t give them free will, yet they suffer all the time. I think god, if there is such a thing, must really enjoy watching everyone and everything suffer, And if you believe the bible , it even shows how god told people to kill other people, and tht included women and children. Yep, I defintaly would have to say pain and suffering is a all time favorite sport of gods,. So there must not be one, because if there is , i would not worship him ever.


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